dissatisfied man using smartphone and ignoring woman during breakfast in kitchen
Individuals with high narcissism levels tend to engage more in phubbing, showcasing their lack of empathy and their prioritization of self-interest.

Phubbing is a term derived from the combination of ‘phone’ and ‘snubbing.’ It describes the act of ignoring a person or social situation in favor of focusing on one’s mobile device, creating a physical presence but a psychological absence (Chotpitayasunondh & Douglas, 2016). As mobile device usage continues to soar worldwide, phubbing has become a pervasive behavior, with substantial implications for relationships and social interaction. It is crucial to delve into this phenomenon to understand what it says about a person’s character.

According to a study by Roberts & David (2016), phubbing behavior is closely linked to internet addiction, cell phone addiction, and FOMO (fear of missing out). All these factors indicate a predisposition towards compulsive behavior, impulsivity, and a lack of self-control. These characteristics often translate into individuals who are less considerate and more self-centered.

Another key aspect is the correlation between phubbing and narcissism. Research by McDaniel & Coyne (2016) demonstrated a strong relationship between phubbing and narcissistic personality traits. Individuals with high narcissism levels tend to engage more in phubbing, showcasing their lack of empathy and their prioritization of self-interest. Such behavior can signal a disregard for others’ feelings and an excessive preoccupation with their own needs, indicating a lesser capacity for emotional intelligence.

Phubbing also reflects a person’s inability to separate themselves from the virtual world. It suggests a preoccupation with the online sphere and a sense of anxiety when disconnected (Cheever, Rosen, Carrier, & Chavez, 2014). This reveals a possible lack of adaptability and emotional resilience, as these individuals seem incapable of coping without constant digital stimulation.

Furthermore, a study by Karadağ et al. (2015) links phubbing with low self-esteem and depression. They suggest that individuals with these conditions may use their devices as a form of escapism, avoiding real-life social interactions which they may find uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing. This avoidance could be indicative of underlying social anxieties or difficulties in interpersonal relationships.

However, it’s also important to note that societal norms around device use are rapidly evolving. As technology becomes an integral part of our lives, behaviors that once seemed rude or inconsiderate may become more acceptable (Monk, Robinson, & Nielsen, 2016). It’s possible that phubbing, in some contexts, may not necessarily indicate negative character traits, but simply a different way of navigating social situations in a digital age.

In conclusion, while the act of phubbing itself does not determine a person’s character, it does provide insight into their behavioral patterns and psychological tendencies. It’s essential to foster awareness about this phenomenon, as it impacts not only individual well-being but also the quality of social interactions and relationships in today’s digitally-oriented society.


  • Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. M. (2016). How “phubbing” becomes the norm: The antecedents and consequences of snubbing via smartphone. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 9-18.
  • Roberts, J. A., & David, M. E. (2016). My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone: Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 134-141.
  • McDaniel, B. T., & Coyne, S. M. (2016). “Technoference”: The interference of technology in couple relationships and implications for women’s personal and relational well-being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(1), 85–98.
  • Cheever, N. A., Rosen, L. D., Carrier, L. M., & Chavez, A. (2014). Out of sight is not out of mind: The impact of restricting wireless mobile device use on anxiety levels among low, moderate and high users. Computers in Human Behavior, 37, 290-297.
  • Karadağ, E., Tosuntaş, Ş. B., Erzen, E., Duru, P., Bostan, N., Şahin, B. M., … & Babadağ, B. (2015). Determinants of phubbing, which is the sum of many virtual addictions: a structural equation model. Journal of behavioral addictions, 4(2), 60-74.
  • Monk, R. L., Robinson, E. J., & Nielsen, D. A. (2016). The Smartphone: A lacuna in the parental responsibility debate? Childhood and Society, 30(4), 495-506.
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